Mom, sons in sweet new jobs

The Pacific Cheesecake Company is officially in business. For owner Karen Freeman, it’s a dream that was years in the making, one that started with a single recipe passed down from one generation to another.

Freeman and her sons, Mike and Steven Freeman, plan to celebrate the shop’s grand opening today in a humble kitchen between two car showrooms a block from the Americana at Brand.

When Karen Freeman was 11, she baked two loaves of herb bread for the first time. They came out of the oven like rocks.

“It was very yeasty, it was horrible,” she said. Undaunted, she kept at her recipes and mixing bowls.

At 20, she took on her grandmother’s cheesecake recipe but found it too custardy. So she tweaked it, and eventually she rethought the recipe.

“That’s the recipe we use today,” Karen Freeman said, describing the cheesecake as “extra creamy, but not as dense as New York cheesecake.”

Mike, 26, and Steven 24, grew up in the kitchen with their mother.

“My earliest memory is licking the spoons,” Mike Freeman said.

The brothers also recalled making each other’s birthday cheesecakes.

While Karen Freeman worked fulltime in commercial financing, she baked on the side. Her sons honed their skills with tireless repetition, earned college degrees and pursued their own careers.

But they all ended up together in what is now Pacific Cheesecake Company.

Together, they’ve created 120 cheesecake flavors — including Bananas Foster, lemon chocolate chip, red velvet chocolate, green tea, sweet lemon basil and white chocolate salted caramel crème.

While there is no secret to the ingredients — cream cheese, eggs, sugar and some vanilla — the three chefs achieve what they call “the wow factor” in the baking technique. That part is secret.

But they have a plan to share at least a little part of the secret.

The Pacific Cheesecake Company plans to offer free mini-cheesecakes from noon to 4 p.m. today at its shop at 413 S. Brand Blvd.

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